World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper says the governing body believes there is not a systematic doping culture in rugby.
A light has been shone on the use of steroids in rugby following Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi’s positive test for three banned substances.
South Africa, in particular, has come into focus as there have also been several past examples of schoolboys found with banned substances in their systems, the most recent wave of positive tests coming after the 2018 U18 Craven Week.
However, Gosper, speaking at the opening media conference of the World Cup, said that World Rugby believes that a cynical culture of doping does not exist in the sport despite also sharing concerns about the semi-professional level of the game.
‘First of all, we invest vast sums of money in a very meticulous drug-testing programme in terms of testing via passports,’ Gosper was quoted by The 42. ‘We’ve been testing the players at this World Cup for the past four years and haven’t stopped, mainly out-of-competition, where you’re more likely to catch offenders.
‘Our belief is that we do not have a systematic or institutional doping problem at the elite level of rugby. We’ve seen some evidence in the community, reflecting community desires to be looking good and fit and all the rest of it – not necessarily a rugby thing. But at the elite level, we’re not seeing that issue. We still believe rugby is a sport for all shapes and sizes, though they’re more fit shapes and sizes than back in the day.
‘We have also generated some pretty innovative law changes around player welfare designed to open up some space in the game, to take some of the brute strength elements out of it to try and progress in those areas,’ Gosper added. ‘We’ll see how those trials go.
‘Short answer, in the elite game there are exceptional findings occasionally but no systemic problem. We’re very confident in our drug-testing programme.’
Photo: EPA/Franck Robichon